United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
OPINION AND ORDER
CHRISTOPHER A. BOYKO, J.
matter comes before the Court upon Plaintiff's Objections
(ECF DKT #15) to the Report and Recommendation (ECF DKT #14)
of Magistrate Judge David A. Ruiz, who recommends that the
Court affirm the Commissioner's decision denying
Plaintiff's Claim for Supplemental Security Income
(“SSI”) under Title XVI of the Social Security
Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 416(i), 423, 1381 et seq.
(“Act”). For the following reasons, the Court
ADOPTS Magistrate Judge Ruiz' Report and Recommendation
and AFFIRMS the Commissioner's denial of Plaintiff's
following is a factual synopsis of Plaintiff's claims.
The Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation provides
a more complete and detailed discussion of the facts. For a
complete overview of Plaintiff's medical history, see
Magistrate Judge Ruiz' Report and Recommendation, which
refers to the original Complaint and incorporates all
documents in relation to the dispute.
30, 2013, Plaintiff filed an application for SSI benefits,
alleging disability beginning July 30, 2013. Plaintiff's
application was denied initially and upon reconsideration.
Thereafter, Plaintiff filed a request for a hearing before an
administrative law judge (“ALJ”). The ALJ held a
hearing on August 12, 2015. Plaintiff appeared at the
hearing, was represented by counsel and testified. On January
29, 2016, the ALJ issued his decision that Plaintiff was not
disabled. The Appeals Council denied Plaintiff's request
for review, thus rendering the ALJ's decision the final
decision of the Commissioner.
March 15, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant Complaint
challenging the Commissioner's final decision and
asserting that the ALJ failed to include in the findings
limitations Plaintiff's need to elevate her leg
throughout the day and Plaintiff's inability to
communicate in English. On January 24, 2018, the Magistrate
Judge issued his Report and Recommendation. On February 1,
2018, Plaintiff filed her Objections to the Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation. In Plaintiff's
Objections, she specifically objects to the ALJ's
conclusion that Plaintiff can communicate in English and
thus, could perform a significant number of available jobs.
Plaintiff has not objected to the Magistrate Judge's
conclusion that the ALJ's decision discounting
Plaintiff's need to elevate her leg was supported by
substantial evidence. Therefore, the Court will adopt the
Magistrate Judge's determination and not address this
district court's review of a final administrative
decision of the Commissioner made by an ALJ in a Social
Security action is not de novo. Norman v.
Astrue, 694 F.Supp.2d 738, 740 (N.D. Ohio 2010) report
adopted by 2011 WL 233697 (N.D. Ohio 2011). Rather, a
district court is limited to examining the entire
administrative record to determine if the ALJ applied the
correct legal standards in reaching his decision and if there
is substantial evidence in the record to support his
findings. Id. (citing Longworth v. Commissioner
of Social Security, 402 F.3d 591, 595 (6th Cir. 2005)).
“Substantial evidence” is evidence that a
reasonable mind would accept to support a conclusion. Id.
(See Richardson v. Perales, 91 S.Ct. 1420, 1427 (1971)).
claimant is entitled to receive SSI benefits only when she
establishes disability within the meaning of the Social
Security Act. See 42 U.S.C. §§ 423, 1381. A
claimant is considered disabled when she cannot perform
“substantial gainful employment by reason of any
medically determinable physical or mental impairment that can
be expected to result in death or that has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than
twelve (12) months.” 20 C.F.R. § 416.905(a).
review of the Commissioner's benefits decision is limited
to a determination of whether the ALJ applied the correct
legal standards, and whether the findings of the ALJ are
supported by substantial evidence. Blakley v.
Commissioner of Social Security, 581 F.3d 399, 405 (6th
Cir. 2009); Richardson v. Perales, 402 U.S. 389, 401
(1971). “Substantial evidence” has been defined
as more than a scintilla of evidence, but less than a
preponderance of the evidence. Wright v. Massanari,
321 F.3d 611, 614 (6th Cir. 2003); Kirk v. Sec'y of
Health & Human Servs., 667 F.2d 524, 535 (6th Cir.
1981). Thus, if the record evidence is of such a nature that
a reasonable mind might accept it as adequate support for the
Commissioner's final benefits determination, then that
determination must be affirmed. Wright, 321 F.3d at
614; Kirk, 667 F.2d at 535.
case, the ALJ found that Plaintiff can communicate in
English, although in a limited manner. The ALJ considered
that a previous attorney, a disability report filed by
Plaintiff and Plaintiff herself undermine Plaintiff's
contention that she is unable to communicate in English. The
Magistrate Judge points out that there is a distinction
between the ability to communicate in a language and being
fluent in a language. Courts have noted that the ability to
communicate in English is not dispositive to the
determination of disability:
While illiteracy or the inability to communicate in English
may significantly limit an individual's vocational scope,
the primary work functions in the bulk of unskilled work
relate to working with things (rather than with data or
people) and in these work functions at the unskilled level,
literacy or ability to communicate in English has the least
Rivera v. Commissioner, No. 3:13CV772, 2014 WL
4956224, at *13 (N.D. Ohio Sept. 30, 2014) (quoting
Deaton v. Commissioner, No. 08-5249, 2009 WL 585788,
at *5 (6th Cir. Mar. 5, 2009)); see also Medina v.
Berryhill, No. 1:16CV02524, 2017 WL 3601917, at *7 (N.D.
Ohio Aug. 22, 2017) ...